Turner Prize axed for 2020 and replaced with bursaries because of Covid-19

26 May 2020, 12:45

Last year's winners Oscar Murillo, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock and Tai Shani
Last year's winners Oscar Murillo, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock and Tai Shani. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

This year's Turner Prize has been cancelled and is being replaced by 10 bursaries to help artists through the coronavirus pandemic.

The prestigious art award will not be given out in December as planned because of Covid-19.

The jury who would have selected the winner will instead choose artists who will be awarded the £10,000 funding.

Alex Farquharson, director of Tate Britain and chairman of the Turner Prize jury, said that measures to deal with coronavirus are "causing huge disruption to the lives and livelihoods of artists".

"The practicalities of organising a Turner Prize exhibition are impossible in the current circumstances, so we have decided to help support even more artists during this exceptionally difficult time."

He added that he thinks JMW Turner, the artist who the prize is named after, would "approve" of the move as he had "planned to leave his fortune to support artists in their hour of need".

"I appreciate visitors will be disappointed that there is no Turner Prize this year, but we can all look forward to it returning in 2021," Mr Farquharson said.

The recipients of the bursaries will be chosen by the Turner Prize jury at the end of June using the award's existing criteria of selecting artists based on their contribution to new developments in contemporary art.

The winner of the award, which was established in 1984, had been scheduled to be announced later this year, with the winner receiving £25,000 and £5,000 going to each of the shortlisted artists.

Previous winners of the Turner Prize include Grayson Perry, Antony Gormley and Steve McQueen.

In a surprise twist, last year's award was shared between all four of the shortlisted artists.

Oscar Murillo, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock and Tai Shani wrote a letter to the jury asking if they could share the prize so it could be used as a collective statement of "commonality, multiplicity and solidarity" at a time of "political crisis".

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